User Experience Design


A Better Intranet Experience Through Research and User Engagement


Creating a law firm Intranet that increases productivity and employee engagement through user research, strategic planning and an integrated team approach.

legal dashboard


Bingham McCutchen, an international law firm, had an Intranet that employees reported was difficult to use. The primary issues were: density of information, poor navigation, lack of visual engagement. Employees also questioned the accuracy of the information they found due to duplication and multiple versions of content.The project team consisted of domain experts from IT, Knowledge Services, Finance, Marketing, and HR.


By interviewing stakeholders, staff and lawyers we identified the following goals for the new Intranet:

  • Increase productivity and efficiency – reduce the time to complete common tasks
  • Build company culture and community
  • Allow for personalization
  • Reinforce the firm’s branding

Previous intranet homepage

User Research and Analysis

To inform our work, we analyzed existing site analytics. We also performed a competitive analysis of corporate Intranets using industry references and insights gleaned from our counterparts at other firms. User research was conducted via contextual inquiry, one-to-one interviews and card sorting. To measure task completion improvements we benchmarked common tasks to determine a baseline of existing conditions.

Results of a card sorting exercise

Benchmarking results used to identify navigation/content discovery. Used to validate improvements post-launch.

Research: Common Threads and Personas

Using the research we performed, we identified common user needs and pain points. From these we worked up several personas used to inform content, functionality and design decisions. Based on these findings, we focused on delivering the following top-level functional improvements:

  • Search results with cleaner data and cleaner visual layout including faceted filtering
  • Clean and simple navigation that aligned with user expectations
  • Quick access to people (directory) pages
  • Easy to find department phone numbers
  • A customizable section that employees could use to add frequently accessed content and useful widgets

Charting the findings in interviews, highlighting information and functionality needs, sorted by category.


Using the findings from card sorting, contextual inquiries and analytics, a sitemap was developed to describe the overall structure of the Intranet.

In addition to organizing the Intranet, the sitemaps were used to identify page types for design and development. The sitemap was also used to help visualize progress during the design and implementation phases of the project.

Sitemap used to define the Intranet structure; color-coded to identify page types.

Wireframes and Prototypes

Wireframes were then created for each key page type. These helped the team visualize page hierarchy and content.

Prototypes were also developed and tested with stakeholders and users. The prototypes included new concepts to the Intranet. Several rounds of prototype testing were conducted. Using the findings from each, we modified and improved functionality and layout.

Wireframe studies used to determine layout and content hierarchy on various pages.

Medium fidelity prototype used in testing.

Design and Development

Working closely with the design and development team, I represented the user points of view – and guided the overall process. We met in daily scrum sessions as part of an Agile approach to the development of the project.

Initial design of the firm’s new Intranet at launch.


The lawyer population was typically a challenging audience to reach.  To increase the engagement of the Intranet with the firm’s lawyers – and to prompt them to take actionable steps in their practice – we created several dashboards that gave lawyers a way to monitor the financial health of their practice, their ongoing engagements with clients, and matter-specific activities. To create meaningful and engaging content, I worked closely with our finance team and provided detailed design and functional specifications for our developers. You can read more about the dashboard projects here.

Legal financial dashboard

Process Improvement

In our after project review, each step in the project’s process was documented. We evaluated and identified areas for improvement. Flow-charts like the one below were used as a guide on future web-related projects.

Detail from process improvement documentation.


User feedback and adoption of the new Intranet were positive. The benchmarks we measured before and after launch for key tasks improved considerably as did employee satisfaction with the experience of using the Intranet. Notably, most people came away from common tasks with a high level of task completion confidence.

The addition of dashboards (financial, client, matter and HR benefits) greatly increased engagement among lawyers and staff.

The introduction of daily news stories also helped to increase Intranet usage and helped to build a greater sense of community within the firm.

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